Many elderly people share a common experience on hearing a sound in one ear or both ears, such as buzzing, ringing or whistling that occurs without an external stimulus. It can be caused by specific reasons, such as ear infection, vascular compressive, disorder of inner ear.

One specific case was a patient has been bothered by pulsatile tinnitus of the right ear which resulted from carotid artery stenosis. This dull roar and unceasing noise in the ears has a medical name called Tinnitus. Under normal circumstances, inside of the ear normally remain silent without any noise. However, some people found that their ears would produce
funny noise by itself, such as buzzing, ringing, whistling, sometimes the noise can be as lound as that of the siren’s. When this annoying noise appears, the normal hearing ability will be disturbed, although it does not last long. This phenomema is called Tinnitus. The causes of tinnitus is rather complicated but mostly happens when the body gets weak. The inner ear and the auditory nerve are made to sense the sounds from the outside world, any outside stimulus will be processed and recognised as different sounds. Tinitus is a common among elderly people. There are many causes leading to tinnitus in elderly population, it might be related to otology, metabolic, neurologic, even cardiovascular condition. Ear infection, the use of certain drugs, a blocked auditory tube or canal, or even too much earwax could be the cause of Tinnitus.

Strange But True:

  • The word “tinnitus” is Latin in origin and means “to ring or tinkle like a bell.”
  • There are some forms of tinnitus which can actually be heard by another person (or recorded) comingfrom the ear of the individual with tinnitus, which is referred to as “objective tinnitus.” Most forms are classified as “subjective tinnitus” where it is only heard internally by the person who has it.

Other than the acoustic neuroma, which is a type of tumour causing vertigo.symptoms which manifests in onesided ringing in the ear and hearing loss. Being affected by tinnitus is part of the natural physical deteriorating process. Along with the years, each part of the body becomes weaker, which is normal and understandable. There is a study in the United States which shows that
9% of the population between 55 – 64 years old would have the Tinnitus problem, 11% of the population between age 65-74 has the Tinnitus. The study also indicate more female patients than male patients. The major complain about tinnitus is the patient could not carry on the normal live and weary in body and minds. Tinnitus caused by the tension, fatigue, nervous prostration, nervosism, can be recovered by proper relaxation and sufficient rest. Tinnitus caused by abnormal blood pressure, such as too high or too low blood pressure, anemia, cerebral arteriosclerosis or insufficient blood supply, these cause the auditory center, auditory nerve and peripheral of acoustic apparatus has ischemia and hypoxic which the Tinnitus follows. The study also show that variables like gender, residence, economic status, alcohol or smoking were not significantly associated with tinnitus. However, dizziness, hypertension, arteriosclerosis or diabetes were significantly correlated. On the other hand, there is also a theory that claims nicotine stimulates the nerve system and causes the blood vessel convulsion , as a result, the inner ear receive insufficient blood supply. Sleep disturbance, defectuous concentration on daily and professional activities, isolation and a poor emotional balance can be often found in tinnitus patients.

The tinnitus can be classified into Acute tinnitus and Chronic Tinnitus :

Acute tinnitus means it only happens in short time, say lessthan 3 months. It is easy for doctor to determine the cause to the acute tinnitus, so that to render proper treatment. On the other hand, the Chronic tinnitus might have more complicated causes and the doctor would have
difficulty to have the condition under control.

There are two types of Tinnitus : Objective Tinnitus and Subjective Tinnitus.

The Objective Tinnitus means the complain can be detected by instrument which enable other people (doctors) to hear the same noise that bothers the patient.

The Subjective Tinnitus means the complain can not be detected by any means, and other people (doctors) could not hear the same noise that bothers the patient.

Tinnitus cause much dissatisfaction in elderly people, as this symptom affects their daily activities and may alter sleeping patterns and their emotional status.

There are some of the professional treatment to the tinnitus, such as :

Biofeedback therapy :

This is a type of body-relaxation training, including exercise and massage. By relaxation, the nerve system ease up, the circulation of head gets improved. The biofeedback is aimed at helping the tinnitus patient to learn to live a life without too much stress and tension.

The Tinnitus re-training therapy :

This is the newest therapy for tinnitus, by combining the low volume and consistent background sound, the therapist will lead the patient into a psychological conversation. The patient wears a special hearing-aids to keep the background sound to stay the same for 8 hours daily. This combination is meant to help the patient to get used to the tinnitus that had already long existed.

Tinnitus masker :

This masker has to be tailored made according to the patient’s tinnitus frequency. The doctor will chose the hearing-aids that is closest to the specific frequency and turn up the volume to cover the tinnitus. The patient should wear this special aid for 1-2 hours daily. Another similar method is to make the patient listen to the waterfall or ocean waves, to help diminish the buzzing sound caused by tinnitus.

Some suggestions on preventing tinnitus:

1. Embrace your life with an open mind

There is a Chinese saying : “a happy smile makes you 10 years younger, a sorrow sigh makes your hair grey.” This idiom explains the correlation between the emotional and physical health. Being optimistic and happy towards the live is the key to good health. On the contrary, the tension and anxiety lead people to hypertension, as a result, the blood supply to inner ear is affected and thus followed by tinnitus or deafness.

2. Regular Exercise

Exercise regularly could delay the maturing or ageing of the physical condition. To go for a walk is always highly recommended. Lots of elderly people form groups and practise Tai-Ji in the park, which is an ideal exercise. A simple general gymnastic can be included as one of the choices. Whatever the choice may be, the exercise should be mild.

3. Inhale and exhale exercise

Every morning when you get up, try to fully open your mouth to exhale, then make a good inhale and immediately close up your mouth. Repeat this for a couple of times not only does this relax the muscles, it also keep the auditory tube clear. This will help balance the pressure of inside and outside of the ear, which also helps in preventing the tinnitus.

4. Reasonable food taking for proper nutrition

The hygiene and freshness of food are the primary concern. Be mindful of the cholesterol level of the food, avoid too much fat, too sweet and salty food. Because these type of food will lead to hypertenion, arteriosclerosis and diabetes. Reasonable portion of vegetable, especially those with dark green leaves, all kinds of nuts with high contents of good oil , black sesame, sufficient fruits and protein such as bean products and eggs. It is advised to plan for your meals to ensure a well balanced diet.

5. Go for regular health screening

The regular health check helps the early finding of physical disorder so that early treatment could be given. This could also reduce the risk of being affected by tinnitus.

6. Suggestion to the daily life

• • ● Stay away from the noisy environment, such as factories or loud music, as these could cause inner ear convulsion.

• • ● Use proper ways to clean your ears, here is what we recommend: dip one end of the cotton swabs with some medicinal alcohol and rub the inside of the ears gently.

• • ● To massage ears and earlobes for couple of minutes every day is also a choice of methods to protect health of ears by Chinese tradition.

• • ● Try to avoid the use of head-set to listen to the music.

• • ● Last but not least, do not consume any medicine without seeking advice from your doctors.

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